We find this Political analysis by Ramon Schack * in Multiperspektivisch
French President Emmanuel Jean-Michel Frédéric Macron recently delivered a brilliant speech on the foreign policy objectives of Paris, a speech which regrettably received little attention from the German public. This may say something about the state of Franco-German relations, or it may well be due to the level of geopolitical debate in political Berlin — about whose poverty you should not be under any illusions!
This speech, which was more like a comprehensive analysis, was marked by a poignant sense of reality, as it is rather an exception today among western heads of state.
For all their superficiality, the French are – as far as historical perspective is concerned – the more profound thinkers. They also do not exclude categorical failure, although the desire for destruction is alien to them.
Fortunately, in his literary work, the French poet Paul Valery has not only expressed himself as a would-be politician. From him comes the definition of Europe as a “Cape of Asia”. He was also the one who made the dismal statement that was to the detriment of all Europeans, especially the Germans and the French, to make them bundle their energy: “In the abyss of history there is room for all.”
This tradition of focusing one’s foreign policy on geopolitical perspectives and insights was forgotten in the recent past, especially under the inglorious term of François Gérard Georges Nicolas Hollande. Since the inauguration of Macron, especially since the beginning of this year, the French President seems to be pursuing success in foreign policy that he has failed to achieve domestically. Paris is seeking new allies and trying to overcome the hegemony of Central Germany in Central and Eastern Europe, which Berlin does not exploit in any way for the benefit of all actors. Macron has expressly announced that he will negotiate with Russia to resolve the crises over Iran as well as Ukraine.
US President Donald John Trump has accused Macron of wanting to interfere in Iran’s US policy, prompting the French foreign minister to make the harsh response that Paris does not need Washington’s permission to maintain relations with Iran. The French president seems to be guided by Gaullist strategy. Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle, arguably the greatest statesman in France – perhaps also Europe – in the 20th century, argued in favor of a strong Europe, from the Atlantic to the Urals, including Moscow. Early on, the general in his role as statesman realized that his vision was in sharp contrast to the US strategy. When De Gaulle escaped the structures of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in March 1966, the preparations for this coup ran under the strictest secrecy. De Gaulle had only involved his foreign minister and defense minister. Only in quick succession did the other ministers learn that Paris was about to end its military cooperation in NATO. In a letter to then US President Lyndon Baines Johnson, the French statesman declared that France intended “to restore its full national sovereignty over its territory” and not participate in the “integrated command structure of the Alliance”. Paris then withdrew on July 1, 1966 its troops out from under NATO command. Formally, the country remained a member of the Alliance, but the NATO headquarters was forced after all to move from Paris to Brussels and to relocate its troops mostly into the Federal Republic. De Gaulle increasingly disturbed the Anglo-American dominance in the Alliance, that is, the rule of the US, which continues to this day. Whether Macron has the same format, the same steadfastness, yes, the same historical sense of mission, may be highly doubted. But the incumbent president is too much of a minion to the banks and multinational corporations that De Gaulle never cared about, yes, of which he did not think much, or the US economic model, which today in the name of globalization holds sway worldwide, but after all, the Macron initiative goes in the right direction and could open up new perspectives for the European Union (EU) if Berlin is ready to catch the ball that has been put in play. If; yes, if it weren’t for the word “if”. In the speech by Macron on foreign policy and international order mentioned here, the President points out that we are probably living at the end of Western hegemony.
Furthermore, the French head of state points out that since the 18th century, the West has established a global system based on its own hegemony.
In the beginning, revolutionary France was the leader of the West, but as early as the 19th century, according to Macron, due to the Industrial Revolution, later in the two world wars of the 20th century, this leading power had been transferred first to the United Kingdom, then to the United States.
Macron explains that we are currently in a new geopolitical starting position. The West has made mistakes; wrong decisions were made, especially by the US. Macron makes it clear that the geopolitical realities have developed against the West and that we are witnessing a development in which new powers are ascending, the effect of which the West for a long time underestimated in a mixture of narcissism and misperceptions.
The President sums up that in order to recognize these powers, we must look first to China, then to Russia and India, countries whose strategies have been more successful than ours in recent years.
These new powers had not only become political and economic powers and thus have not only had stirred up the international order, but have also very effectively reshaped political order and political thinking. The challenge now is to bring France and Europe together in this new conflict-laden multipolar world order as an independent, balancing force, and to be non-aligned, flexible and free.
To what extent Paris will and can implement this version of a European emancipation from the USA, will certainly also depend on the actions and brakes of Berlin.
*Ramon Schack (born 1971) is a graduate political scientist, journalist and publicist. He writes for the “Neue Zürcher Zeitung”, “Zeit Online”, “Deutschland-Radio-Kultur”, “Telepolis”, “Die Welt” and many other well-known publications. His book Meetings with Peter Scholl-Latour – a Personal Portrait by Ramon Schack was published in 2015, a reminder of shared experiences and a personal exchange with the famous World Explorers.
I will shortly see if I can find a transcript of the speech. Meanwhile, Schack’s analysis. –Tr.